Added Mintmarks

Added Mintmarks:

Adding a mintmark to an existing coin is the most common mintmark alteration performed, as usually branch Mint coinage has tended to be of lower mintages than that of the "mother mint" in Philadelphia, and therefore the Mintmark of the branch Mint in question is added to a Philadelphia Mint product (or less commonly to another branch Mint coin which has had the original Mintmark removed).  During the 1940's and 50's, when the bulk of the nation's collectors were located in the Midwest and East, and the coins from San Francisco were considered "rare" (as they did not circulate widely east of the Rocky Mountains), it was the "S" Mintmark that was most commonly added to create a "rarity".  This is especially true as many of the Key Date 20th Century coinage actively sought by collectors from circulation was from the California Mint:  the Cents dated 1908-1915; Nickels 1912 and 1913; 1896, 1901 and 1913-S Quarters; 1892, 1893, 1897, 1916 and 1921-S Halves; and the 1893-S Morgan Dollar.

The image below shows a genuine 1901 Quarter to which an "S" mintmark was added, to create the appearance of the key 1901-S Barber Quarter, which has been scarce to rare since the beginning of the 20th Century.  Also shown is the ANACS certificate issued in 1985 when the coin was submitted for authentication.  This type of alteration would not likely fool very many today, as the shape of the "S" is totally unlike that of the genuine article.  Here we have our first authentication tip: KNOW WHAT THE REAL COIN SHOULD LOOK LIKE,  including the size, shape and position of the Mintmark.

 

The image below is of a much more dangerous mintmark addition, an added "D" on a 1916 Mercury Dime, giving it the appearance of a key date 1916-D. This date was at one time perhaps the most counterfeited/altered coin in the U.S. series, as very few above Good exist, everybody wanted them and very few could tell a real from an fake example.  One problem with this coin is that four Reverse dies were used to strike the 264,000 made - usually a mintage of this size might require two at most.  The result is that mintmark position is not as easily used as an authenticator, as the Mintmark "wanders" around on the real date.  This particular example was traded in at a gun show on some Silver to an unsuspecting firearms dealer, and submitted to us for authentication.  At the time, the amount of money wasn't that big of a deal, but this coin has the appearance of an original, uncleaned VF20 16-D, worth $4000-$5000 today, not chump change.  A collector who bought something like this would be significantly impaired financially, not to mention the dealer who sold it to him, who if honest would be honor bound to buy it back at the current market value!!  In the case of the 1916-D Dime, knowing the basic mintmark SHAPE (and I apologize for the poor image of the Mintmark - I will try to improve it), which all D-Mint coins of the period share (including the 1914-D Lincoln Cent) is critical, BUT this is the one coin that I would absolutely recommend only purchasing CERTIFIED already (or with an ironclad refund policy from an reputable dealer).  Lets put it this way: unless the coin is a Poor to Fair, we only sell them already certified (and only purchase them that way).